1 9 8 4 – 1 9 8 5 (UK)
18 x 25 minute episodes
Debuting on Thursday 26 July 1984, this children’s quiz show from Granada TV was hosted by “Starstrider” (Roger Sloman from A Kick Up The Eighties) – an evil-looking inter-stellar schoolmaster from the planet Ulphrates III on the search for intelligent life-forms to join the Galactic Federation.
He was aided by his wacky assistant, Wart (future Doctor Who Sylvester McCoy). The pair came down to earth accompanied by their extraterrestrial bucking bronco (that looked like a mutant goat), the Grunder Hunter.
Three teams of four youngsters from British schools competed over five rounds.
In round one, the teams had to look up answers in a library full of reference books to supply their waiting “Team Commanders” with answers to Starstrider’s questions (this was in the pre-Google days, obviously).
In round two, the team commanders sat in a solitary state “under maximum pressure” and were tested on their general knowledge.
The pace hotted up in round three as team members tried to remember such posers as “What does STD stand for?” and “Who wrote The Count of Monte Cristo?” while sitting astride the gruesome Grunder Hunter as it thrashed around.
Round four was a monster game of blind man’s buff conducted in the ‘light maze’ while wearing “cyber helmets”, and a final general knowledge session completed the quiz in round five. The winning school received membership badges of the Galactic Federation – and a set of encyclopaedias.
The series – filmed in Manchester – aired on Thursday afternoon at 4.45 pm for its initial nine-week run, ending on 20 September 1984.
Starstrider returned in September 1985 for another nine-week run, this time on Friday afternoons. The character of Starstrider was now played by future Downton Abbey star Jim Carter.
The final episode aired on Friday 1 November 1985.
Roger Sloman (1984)
Jim Carter (1985)